Last weekend, I attended the annual Fitness Summit in Kansas City. This is my fourth year in a row, and it’s officially a tradition. I always look forward to this weekend because it’s so much fun.
For me this isn’t just an event to further my education. It’s an excuse to hug the necks of people who are dear friends, previous clients, and those I’ve developed new friendships with over the wonderful Internetz.
This year I decided to take a few of my friends in Nashville, who know very little of the online fitness space, with me.
For them, it was an eye-opener, mainly from the standpoint that making friends, and connections is everything to your business. But they also learned that those connections transcend any business endeavor, and can blossom into amazing friendships.
What’s even cooler is all of these people share a similar mindset – which is to put your clients/customers/audience first, and everything else is automatically taken care of.
Anyway, the reason I’m writing this post today is because I was inspired by all those around me and also because Dick Talens wrote a post titled Why The Fitness Industry is Broken  and it gave me a lot to think about. So this is more of a reflection, and my take on a few things I see and wish to change about the industry as a whole.
Dick’s post made it to Reddit , and here’s a screenshot of the first response, which I can totally resonate with in terms of what this person is describing.
What stands out the most to me is his first paragraph – the bold is my emphasis:
“I would add: a lack of long-term focus. Every fitness book, good and bad, says you can expect results in a week, 4 weeks, or 6 weeks. I really haven’t seen many books say: “adopt this workout/diet/lifestyle and you’ll be lean and healthy in 6 months.”
Other culprits are “hacks” – things like Tim Ferriss’ cold showers and PAGG stacks. Or brutal HIIT sessions. Or fasted cardio. Or drinking an extra gallon of water a day. All these things are fine, and sound great in theory, but I don’t like it when they’re posed as silver bullets.
You end up stressing yourself out by taking a walk in the morning, then taking a cold shower, and chugging water all day. These things have a time and place, but a person can only make so many changes at once and all these “hacks” should be incorporated in moderation, and without the expectation that any one of them will make magic happen.”
False Promises Lead To Frustration And Even Contempt
The above Redditor’s thoughts are interesting to me because they’re directly from a fitness consumer, and one who has likely been disappointed over and over again.
However, what I find so valuable from their blurb is that they seem to get it.
They understand a lot of the promises are false, and they’re clearly frustrated in their description of how stressed out they become when focusing on all these new and different actions simultaneously.
They also said the magic word, moderation. If you’ve read much of my stuff the last year, you know I’m all about the concept.
One problem is in our (I say this collectively as I’m a part of the fitness industry) approach to marketing and sales.
Another problem is that we can create contempt from people who fall to the sales tactics, only to be disappointed when they don’t get their 6 pack in the time we promised.
People want a promise – a surefire approach to getting results.
If we can convince someone they’ll be ripped in 6 weeks, it’s a much easier sell than saying “this may take a lot of time, and you may even screw up the program I’ve written out very clearly for you because you’re not aware you need a certain level of ‘mess-ups’ or experience to be successful.”
How does that bode for a sexy headline? It doesn’t!
And you know what? I knowingly left a metric ton of money on the table when I marketed LGN365 . This project took me almost 9 months from start to finish because I wanted to accomplish two things:
- I wanted to create a lasting resource that my customers (both fitness enthusiasts, and coaches alike) could refer to, and continue using for years to come.
- I wanted to do something different. To this day, I know of no other product that talks as much about lifestyle, habits, and the mental side of this fitness thing, not to mention everything else included (programs, calculators, fat loss and hypertrophy plans, etc).
My goal with LGN365 is to give people a framework, both in training and thinking. In short, I want to equip people with the knowledge, and teach them to think for themselves, as opposed to running through programs mindlessly forever.
Why I Marketed LGN365 Differently
In case you don’t know, or just aren’t on too many email lists, the standard way of marketing an e-product is typically through an army of affiliates.
Now let me first get this out of the way.
I HAVE NO PROBLEM WITH AFFILIATE MARKETING, OR MARKETING IN GENERAL.
I make affiliate commissions from various products in blog posts written over 2 years ago, but they’re products I own, and refer to on a consistent basis.
Hell, I studied marketing and advertising in college. I really enjoy selling.
However, if you paid attention to when I released LGN365, I did something on purpose. I didn’t go out and tell everyone about it’s release 2 months beforehand, hoping they’d be on board to promote it to their lists with a bunch of emails laced with viper-like sales copy I’d crafted for them.
I did this because I wanted to undersell and over deliver. The only people who knew LGN365 was being released was a handful of friends (Andy Fossett, John Romaniello, who wrote my foreword , mama Deen, Rog Law and a few others).
My sales copy wasn’t in-your-face, and I never made any crazy claims such as how to get abs in 11 days, or that you’d gain slabs of muscle within your first month.
The only thing some might’ve gotten mad at me about was that I held a sale offering $20 bucks off for the first four days to create a little bit of urgency. I also emailed pretty heavily with one email per day during that four day window.
Other than that, I went completely against what is expected, and what is done by many releasing their products in the fitness space.
Do I regret it? No, and I learned a lot in the process.
What I love the most is getting emails from customers about how much they love LGN365, and how much it’s helped them.
I even got Alan Aragon’s endorsement on his blog, a month after I released it.
Note: he called me asking me when I was going to release it, and I told him “Umm, a month ago, brochacho.”
I even got an email from a coach. These are his exact words:
“Thank you JC!! Holy hell I didn’t realize how comprehensive your programming was, the value in this is mind blowing. And extremely useable and applicable. I buy A LOT of E-books, few if any are as ever well studied, sourced, and grounded in evidence as yours.”
I then asked replied with “Thanks. I really appreciate the feedback and kind words.
How do you feel it stands apart from other fitness ebooks?”
“Well, simply from one fitness professional to another
1) This is thoroughly researched. Like fucking thorough. There isn’t any dogma or agenda that you are presenting other than doing is most proven and effective and grounded in either practice, clinical study, and/or both.
2) Beyond the research, the whole thing is extremely well written, easy to understand but not “dumbed down”, and the organization and ease of use of all of it is just awesome. I could hand this off to clients and they would “get it”, and I can read it as a coach myself and it just impresses the hell out of me. Your have a consistent voice throughout the work and feels like the worlds most informative and really long conversation.
3) Perspective. I’ve been in this industry long enough to recognize the amount of bullshit, hypocrisy, and utter lunacy that is presented on a daily basis as “fitness facts” and is utterly worthless the majority of the time. Your own story describing the two gym bros that bragged about all the alcohol they don’t consume perfectly highlighted how short-sighted the whole fitness industry is in regards to just LIVING YOUR LIFE AND ENJOYING IT. “
But this post is not about my book. It’s just an illustration about what I did differently, and why.
Now onto my next point – why there’s so much more to gain through fitness than we realize.
Instead Of Setting You Up For Failure, I Want You Thinking About Thinking
Dick made a great point in his post (the bold is my emphasis):
“Trainers, programs, and products are incentivized to produce short-term perception of effectiveness, not long-term outcome. Whether it’s the gym that wants you to sign up in January and never return (that’s how they stay in business), the trainer who tricks you into grueling sessions to “fool” you into thinking he’s giving you a great workout, or the app that only gets paid when you miss the gym, almost the entire industry is designed to see you fail in the long run.”
When I think on it, everything about the above is true. Go read almost any long form sales page (not all are like this) and count how many trigger statements there are, getting you to act on impulse.
Or go through and see how many times they play on your insecurities.
It’s fun, huh? Makes you feel like someone knows something you don’t, and in order to achieve it, you’ve gotta pay up, and work hard, even if you’re in disbelief that [insert goal here] is even achievable for you currently.
We’re incredibly emotional, and irrational.
This is why these types of sales tactics work, and will continue to work forever. It’s basic psychology, and behavior.
But I’m not against selling, and playing on people’s desires/wants because after all, sometimes it takes a little nudge to get people to act (I’m not going to lie, or create false hope or promises, though). Read this article about personal trainer marketing  to see what I mean.
And we (trainers/writers) sure as hellfire cannot work for free because
- we are running a business
- people must exchange something (money/resources) in order to get the full value out of it
In short, sometimes you have to pay the price to see something as valuable. This is basic exchange, which is what ethical marketing is founded upon.
— okay, back to waxing the philosophical —
In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve done a lot of writing about meditation, mindfulness, and the practice of paying attention lately. It’s all become incredibly important to me, both in my personal life, and in my career as a trainer.
No longer am I thinking about what to do, as much as I’m thinking about why we do it, and how we can do it better.
In fact, I’ve spent some time journaling, asking questions about why some of us get it, and some of us are on a continual struggle when chasing our fitness goals.
From what I can tell, it all comes down to a mindset that is grounded in knowing what you want, why you want it, and how to build simple habits and mental connections/triggers to make the new processes stick.
What good is attempting a lifestyle change if don’t have the mental framework to ensure it lasts forever? We all have to start somewhere, but impulsing from program to program, and mindlessly wandering through the gym is no way to make those lasting changes.
Sure, we can all use an objective eye (coach or trainer) from time to time, but eventually this all must stick and become a part of our being. If not, we continue working hard and spinning our wheels, only to end up wondering why it just isn’t working for us.
This is why I want you to think about what you’re thinking. Figure out how you feel, then think about why. Think about thinking.
Furthermore, Rog Law and I are putting together some work on building habits, and cultivating a mindset that will help you reach your fitness goals, as opposed to trying incessantly, and thus feeling like everything is impossible all the time.
I don’t have specifics yet, but just know it’s coming, and we want to share it with everyone who feels they can benefit.
And this leads me to the next point…
Where We’re Headed And What To Expect…
from me anyway.
I was going to wait until the time came to write this, but I’ll do it now because I might change my mind later.
As a trainer with some background in marketing, I’ve been testing, and seeking feedback via various channels.
One of those channels is on the home page of LGN365.com. There’s a small form that pops up and it asks “Is there anything preventing you from purchasing LGN365 at this point?”
And while there have been a bunch of responses, some good and some negative, here’s one I can’t let slide without thinking a little more about how it defines the way I run things around here.
“Yes, I fear I will buy this thing and it will be no different than any of the other [a name of a marketer I’ve left out]-era fitness information products that have all been very disappointing.”
Back at the Fitness Summit, I was having a chat with Brad Barber and we discussed what was next in our careers.
I remember talking about how I plan to deviate from the online fitness norm, which I’ve done already in terms of marketing, and sales strategy.
I brought up the comment above and how it affected me. It hit hard because here I was being compared to someone who’s marketing tactics pose as unethical, and shady.
As Dick said in his original post, this industry is broken. The info, and content that can serve people for a lifetime, is often swept under the rug in order to sell a product or potion promising a lifetime of results in 6 short weeks, but only if they buy now.
So there are two things coming in the very near future that will serve the entire JCD Fitness community.
- Brand new web presence/design that will be functional from both a user standpoint in terms of navigation, and in usability on all devices. And best of all, it will be built by someone other than me, so I can now focus on what’s important (content, reach, and serving everyone). There will also be a better focus on emails, and social connection.
- A new product that will serve beginners whose main goal is to build muscle. This will highly deviate from the traditional advice that goes along the lines of “Shut up and lift heavy weights, get strong on a low volume program, eat a bunch of food, and the muscle gains will come.” Oh, and the best part about it is the marketing approach I’m going to use. It’s probably different than anything you’ve ever seen, and there will be no pressure or ridiculous tactics. Anyway, that’s all I can say for now.
On top of that, things are always evolving. The more I study human behavior, and work with people, the more I learn about how I can contribute to the fitness community as a whole – with every intention of improving it.
In the end, all I want to do is leave a mark. I realize that a training program, or various articles on diet and training won’t change your life, but something else might.
Perhaps a message on managing your expectations, or teaching you to let go of an outcome-dependent mindset, or showing you how to be present in the midst of distractions, or even a simple email exchange…
Maybe then I can begin to help you expand yourself, and help you instill positive habits that can eventually make a lasting, positive impact on your life.
2 – Reddit Thread
3 – LGN365
4 – foreword